We inhabit a world that is filled with so much natural beauty. It is all around us. If we can find a spot on the Earth that is not beautiful, that is ugly, chances are it is the actions of human beings that have made it so.
Who are the people whose lives have such a deficit of appreciation of our world that they busy themselves with activities that pollute, destroy, and render increasingly vast areas of our planet deathly shadows of what they once were? But not only that, these same people also demonstrate a similar disregard for human life. Of course, if one is contemptuous of the Earth that is an inescapable show of contempt for human life as we humans depend upon a healthy Earth to be healthy ourselves.
There is much information available on the internet and elsewhere about who is abusing our planet. But I would like to narrow the focus of this article to look at a question/issue pertaining to world events that are in the headlines constantly these days. Who are the people instigating, supporting and engaging in violence? There is so much violence going on; international and interpersonal violence. Who is behind it?
While I was writing my last blog article “Security”; The Word of the Day, I had a realization, a glimpse of a reality, that came to me. I included it in the article but then found myself contemplating it further. I found myself having something of a personal epiphany around this realization. Some may choose to call it an hypothesis. That is OK, that is a fair approach to what I am going to share. But after many decades of watching world events unfold, to me, I have a greater certainty of the validity of the realization.
Plainly stated it is this: The vast majority of the violent terrorism that is taking place in the world today emanates from people who occupy the extremes of our economic continuum.
This economic continuum can be expressed, roughly, by a bell curve illustration:
Then the likelihood that those along this continuum are going to somehow be directly involved in the instigation, support or commission of acts of violent terrorism can be represented by an inverted bell curve:
If accurate, and I believe the readily available evidence in the world-at-large overwhelmingly supports this model, there are some clear implications for us as a species. Briefly, it’s that we need to manage economic resources in a manner which disallows extreme polarities to manifest. I would not go so far as to say that it is merely the condition of being farther out on the continuum that is entirely responsible for the correlation with the use of violence. However, there is a correlation. Quite possibly there are one or more associated factors which affect both criteria: placement on the economic continuum and likelihood to utilize violence. This seems likely.
What could this factor or factors be? There could be a few, however, it is likely that a tunnel-vision focus on what is perceived as “self-interest”, with a concurrent neglect or disdain for the well-being of others, of the community, is a primary contributing component to both of these goals/values (inordinate wealth and a willingness/propensity toward the use of violence).
There can be no doubt that in the case of the extremely wealthy who instigate, manipulate toward, fund and profit from acts of violent terrorism, that the availability of extreme wealth provides them avenues to promote violence in our world they would not otherwise possess.
And in the case of the extremely poor, extreme poverty, want and need can themselves skew one’s thinking. Morality may well find itself taking second place to basic survival orientation. This is just another dynamic implied by Maslow’s Hierarchy. How many of us, when faced with the effects of profound deprivation upon ourselves and our families would or could resist opportunities to help alleviate those effects which may involve breaking laws or acting in ways which our higher self regards as morally “wrong”?
I would like to share more around what I perceive as being the general nature of the involvement we can expect from the individuals to be found at the extreme poles of the continuum.;
- The extremely wealthy are much more likely to be involved in behind-the-scenes manipulation of conditions and events paving the way toward and facilitating the violent activities. Why do they do these things? For the wealthy the answer is simple: they hope and plan to profit.
- The extremely poor are much more likely to be those actually involved in the commission of the violent acts. Why do they do these things? A few reasons include: Desperation, a job, anger, money, maybe they’ve become convinced or manipulated to believe it’s noble or their duty. For those who live in the “target country(ies)” it may simply be for survival.
- Those lying more toward the median may still be involved in the administration and/or commission of the violent acts. Why do they do these things? Often it’s because they needed a job and they have been manipulated, as many of the poor have, via the media, staged events, and or national catch phrases and symbols to feel it’s a patriotic or religious obligation or duty.
Of course once people find themselves in the middle of violence with all the accompanying tragedies taking place around them, then a whole new set of motivations becomes possible, if not probable. Outrage over seeing a friend injured, mutilated or killed. Outrage over the atrocities the combatant sees the designated enemy combatants engaging in. Increased certainty, based upon the apparently inhuman acts of the designated enemy that one’s cause is noble and right whereas the “others” are apparently sub-human. Once hostilities begin there is a vicious, self-reinforcing, self-contained cycle of outrage that could quite possibly fuel the violence for decades? Centuries?
In order to break the cycle of outrage that almost always accompanies hostilities can require a dedicated effort and a perspective on events which transcends our immediate, emotional reactions.
Finally I would like to include a quotation from the Bible which speaks directly to the situation and which I can personally see no reason whatsoever to discount. I think it is worth noting due to it’s longevity and persistent relevance: 1 Timothy 6:10, NIV: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil…”